Do I Need a Separate Work Permit with the E2 Visa?
The E2 visa, as you likely know, gives you permission to work at a specific business in the United States. In fact, the name of that business is printed right on the visa. However, do you need a separate work permit issued by USCIS (sometimes known as an Employment Authorization Document, or an EAD card) ? The answer is no! Read on to find out more about who will need the EAD card, this separate work permit, and why you don’t need one.
E2 Visa Applicant Does NOT Need Separate Work Permit (EAD Card)
For the E2 treaty investor, the E2 visa itself will allow you to work at your own business. When you receive the E2 visa, the name of your business will be printed onto the visa. This is the only place you will be able to work on the E2 visa you were granted. You have no other work authorization while in the United States. The great news? Because you are limited in who employs you, you do not need a separate work permit.
E2 Visa Spouse Needs a Separate Work Permit (EAD Card)
Who does need the separate work permit (EAD card)? Your spouse. Your spouse was granted the E2 derivative visa when you were issued your E2 visa. This means that he or she is not tied to employment at any specific location. Your spouse, once he or she has the EAD card can work anywhere in the United States, including at your business or even starting a new business. But, he/she must have the EAD card (there are a few arguments to the contrary, but the safe bet is get the EAD card). Although the freedom to work anywhere is appealing, the application process for the EAD card is not. See the following steps for how to get the EAD card as a spouse of an E2 visa holder.
1. Go to an interview with the E2 visa applicant. If the applicant is approved and if the E2 derivative applicant is approved, both passports will be taken at the consulate or embassy. E2 visas will be printed and affixed to the passports. About five business days later, the passports will be mailed to the E2 visa applicant and spouse.
2. Travel to the United States and present the E2 visas at the border (usually, the “border” is an airport).
3. The E2 applicant can begin work immediately. The E2 spouse will then (and only then) fill out is the I-765 and mail it to USCIS.
4. Now the E2 spouse must wait in order to be approved. Historically, this could take 8-12 weeks. It is now taking 12-16 weeks and sometimes longer. Until the E2 spouse gets the work permit, he/she cannot work. (There is some argument to the contrary, but to err on the side of caution, which I always suggest when dealing in immigration matters, please wait for the authorization before working.)
E2 Dependent Children Cannot Work
The children of E2 visa holders cannot work, regardless of their age. They may go to school, but they do not have permission to work. As a result, children of E2 visa holders do not need to apply for a separate work permit (EAD card).